This section presents real examples of language that have been collected for the purpose of sociolinguistic analysis. For each, I provide some details of the original naturally occurring social context. Some of the data are from students’ fieldwork and some are from my own notes. Of course, no piece of language is one-dimensional, and although each passage appears under a heading, there are often insights to be gained by examining the data with a different concern in mind.
Each area corresponds roughly with the similarly numbered sub-sections in A and B above. For each, I have suggested some analytical questions, discussion points, and issues to consider, though of course the whole point of engaging with data like this is to apply your own analytical methods and thinking and develop your own ideas and conclusions.
As a way into thinking about practical methodology, consider some of the following (comments at the end in C1.2).
a Chickens and eggs and Mozart
According to The Farmer’s Guardian, chickens lay more eggs when they listen to Mozart. Researchers suggest it is the intricate modulation of the notes which stimulates the hens and makes them less stressed. It has also been suggested that the same applies to children, whose learning shows an improvement if they are played classical music both pre-birth and in the first couple of years. Can you explain why stories such as these are nonsense?
b Sofa: so good
In one advertising campaign, the furniture shop Ikea used the results of a survey that said: people with green sofas are more likely to be adventurous in bed; people with flowery wallpaper were more likely to gossip about their friends and neighbours; people who kept cacti as domestic plants were likely to be cold and unemotional. What conceptual step has been leapt over in the logic of these findings?